President Dwight Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States. It is said that Eisenhower had an incredible ability to sustain his productivity almost throughout his illustrious career and life. He is famous for his productivity strategy, now known as Eisenhower box. This is a simple 2 x 2 matrix combining importance and urgency. I have tried creating one for Product Managers based on my experience.
Let us start with the second quadrant; the tasks which are important but not urgent. They are usually strategic and long-term in nature. You must schedule and plan them. One way to make sure that you do concentrate on second quadrant tasks is to schedule the tasks much in advance on a calendar accessible by all the stakeholders so that you have a deadline for yourself and you will pay attention to these tasks.
The first quadrant items are the ones which eat-up your time. You cannot avoid them, but if you have spent enough time on the tasks in the second quadrant, then the ones in the first quadrant will at least not be a surprise. For example, if you prepare collaterals for stake-holders much in advance, then you can avoid surprises during the time of product release.
The one in the third quadrant is something that is mundane, can be automated or delegated. These have to be done, so that it helps you to accelerate the tasks in first two quadrants, but avoid doing the tasks here yourself. For example, if you need to conduct user testing, gathering participants must be delegated after you review the guideline for gathering participants.
Finally, the fourth quadrant. Things you must stop doing. Depending on your seniority, the content of this quadrant changes.
Here is a good article about the 7 Must Have Project Management skills. I really liked the way that it is laid out and I believe that these skills are Must Haves for a successful Project Manager. However, the skill No. 6 “Recognize and solve problems quickly” rang a bell. I do agree that a Project Manager should be able to see and resolve a problem quickly. However, what I think is a better skill to have is the ability to predict a particular problem or risk before it happens, work on it pro-actively and nip the problem in the bud.
The difference here is between a Hero and a Silent Achiever. Imagine two adjacent fields with dry grass and bushes on a hot summer day. On one, there is a fire caused by the extreme heat while on the other field, there isn’t. A Hero might be seen as one who goes in a helicopter, stoops low and douses the bush fire that is raging. The Silent Achiever is one who realized that the atmosphere is dry and hot, predicted the bush fire and cut the grass or sprinkled enough water on the field to ensure that the bush fire does not occur. So, for the casual observer, it seems to be Business as usual and the effort put in by the Silent Achiever is not usually noticed. Continue reading →
What keeps you awake at night? what is one thing that keeps you on your toes?. The answer to this question is probably the core tenet of your profile and also your organization’s expectation from you. It is good to know the answer to this question since it also helps in prioritizing your tasks at work. Here are some replies that I often to get to listen.
too many bugs towards the tail end of the release
long backlog list, I have too many features to add to the product
competition, losing too many orders to them
over demanding stake holders
Unreasonable customer demands
opportunities in market place
too much interference from top management
product road map
The answer to this question is important for you. Should this concern be your top focus? Is this concern taking away crucial hours from your planned strategic work, if so you are prone to spend significant amount of your time in coming days doing firefighting. Spend sometime, to begin with may be every week to get answer to this question. List down your top concerns and be sure you have strategic plan for concerns that are your priorities and permanent alternate solutions for concerns that are not part on top of your to-do / KRA list.